Monday, October 21, 2013

The Month of Horror Day 21: Pumpkinhead

Basement contributor Matt Bellamy has taken it upon himself to watch and review at least one horror movie a day for the month of October . . . because he's awesome that way! Tonight, Bellamy tries to stay away from Pumpkinhead, but Pumpkinhead won't let him. 

I just want to take this opportunity to pay my respects to effects guru, the late Stan Winston, who not only created the creature of "Pumpkinhead" for this movie but it was also his debut as a director! I think that when it came out in 1988 perhaps it had been hyped up too much ahead of its release and when it wasn't quite the knock-out horror masterpiece many were expecting, it was pushed aside and mainly forgotten by the masses. Who cares about the mainstream though when it comes to horror?? They're not the ones these types of movies are made for! 'Pumpkinhead' has gone on to become a cult classic (as well as spawned a few sequels) because hardcore horror enthusiasts ate this up big time, and it also helped that one of the absolute best actors of the genre kicks a whole lot of ass as the main character.

There are many great B (or C, or maybe D?) list actors within horror and one of those men, who truly belongs near the top, is Lance Henriksen. He plays a father whose son is killed by a group of idiot teenage campers and he decides that the best course of revenge is voodoo! Naturally, right? He digs up a body in a pumpkin patch, visits a crazy old bag in the woods to re-animate it (because shut up) and it comes to life as... PUMPKINHEAD! The creature begins murdering the campers post haste and Lance Henriksen experiences these deaths as visions, as if he's doing it himself, and this doesn't sit so well with him so he decides to grow a conscience or something and aims to save the day. This is definite "action-horror" and it's such a perfect product of its time in that it doesn't necessarily hold up super well but it's still pretty darn entertaining.

I also want to reiterate just how AWESOME the creature of "Pumpkinhead" is. When you see practical effects work like what was done here, and done so well, you can't help but long for it again. CG is fun and all but more often than not it's obvious, lazy, and uninspired compared to what some of these masters were doing back in the day; brilliant craftsmen like Stan Winston, Rob Bottin, and Rick Baker, to name just a few. These people unfortunately do not exist in the same capacity in Hollywood any more and it's a damn shame because honest creativity feels like it's in short supply in modern film. Long live practical effects, makeup, and puppetry! You are sorely missed!

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